In December of 2012, Sandi and I went to Costa Rica. It has taken a few years, but I'm finally taking the time to edit my journal entries, post the blogs, and upload the pictures. Click the pictures to expand them. Click here to jump to the beginning with a link to every day.
We departed at sunrise for a drive I worried might take twenty hours—if we even made it alive (I’d read many horror stories about driving in Costa Rica). We (Sandi, Ryan, Yeimy, and I) hit the road to backpack three days in the Corcovado. Have I mentioned the Corcovado is the most biodiverse place on the planet according to National Geographic? Yes? I probably will again.
I pushed the speed limit. We needed to make our evening meeting with our guide, Nito, and I wanted time to explore the town of Puerto Jimenez. The pictures made me imagine a town like Montezuma, and I wanted time to enjoy it. We’d sleep there tonight and start our jungle expedition bright and early in the morning.
We reached Crocodile Bridge ahead of schedule. Locals call it the Tarcoles Bridge—where Highway 34 crosses the Tarcoles River. Tourists refer to it by the monsters that live beneath it. We parked, walked onto the bridge, and looked down. Crocs everywhere. Armored beasts lounged in the sun or floated in the river like harmless logs.
“Every once in a while, some idiot goes down there.” Ry pointed. “They look harmless enough, but they’ll rip you apart if give ‘em the chance.”
As if on cue, several crocs opened their mouths. Giant logs with teeth—not so harmless now.
We left the crocs and drove on. Highway 34 was wide, free of traffic, and well maintained. We rushed past cute towns and tourist sites (like Manuel Antonio National Park) because of our rush to make our appointment with Nito. Done right, we’d have spent days on this road camping on hippy beaches, hiking to waterfalls, and swimming in the surf. But, we couldn’t. Corcovado was our priority.
When we turned onto Highway 245 and made our way down the peninsula, the roads narrowed, wound, and were often not paved. Gorgeous scenery, but slow driving. We saw a swarm of armed police combing a field and wondered what was up. Maybe a monster crocodile that wanders Costa Rica like Bigfoot does the Pacific Northwest. Bigtooth. No wonder they had rifles and armored jackets.
We arrived in Puerto Jimenez with plenty of time to enjoy the town. But I didn’t find it enjoyable. I expected a jungle like Montezuma—lush green, and cozy. Instead, it was open, hot, and dusty. None of us were impressed with our booked accommodations, so we drove around looking for something nice before we roughed it for two nights. No luck. Everything was booked or costed more than we wanted to spend, so we went back to the bugs and small community bathrooms of the hostile.
For dinner, we sat a stones throw from crashing ocean surf to dine on seafood. Open-air, a view of the ocean, delicious food, and I had a sour attitude. I didn’t like the town, our accommodations, and wasn’t sure how we’d get to Carate to start hiking in the morning. I wanted to drive our rental car to save money instead of hiring a truck, but worried about the rivers.
My mood spiraled down. Instead of the ten-mile hike feeling like a fantastic adventure—it loomed. A hot, tiring, bushwack through the jungle with a heavy pack. I wondered if we’d see any animals at all. Maybe the brochures were all lies. The whole Corcovado plan had been a stupid mistake.
“You okay, War?” Sandi asked.
I smiled. “Hell yes! Corcovado tomorrow!” My ego talking.
My smile didn’t last. I’m guessing dinner was tasty—the food was wasted on my negativity. And I’m sure there were plenty of awesome things to be written about Puerto Jimenez, but I can’t speak to them. I blame myself.
After dinner, we met Nito and a couple from Spain joining our expedition. The couple spoke no English, so Sandi and I communicated with them through Nito, Ryan, and Yeimy. Nito took us to the grocery store to help us buy food and suggested we pay thirty dollars to have his buddy fly it in for us during a supply run. We agreed, and this let us buy for more enjoyable meals than originally planned.
Nito’s excitement killed my bad attitude. He said we’d see monkeys, birds, iguanas, and the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Corcovado returned to the thrilling adventure I’d been imagining for months. My smile reappeared, and I couldn’t wait until morning.
Nito explained that our first day, tomorrow, we’d leave early and drive to Carate to where the hike begins. We’d have to hike fast to beat the tide at two critical beaches. He thought the weather was good, and we’d probably be fine driving ourselves, but that there was room on their truck if we changed our minds. On day two, we’d take morning, afternoon, and evening hikes. And on the third day, we’d wake early and hike back.
Back at the hostel we finalized our gear. I removed a few things from my pack but it was still overweight. We considered paying for a shuttle and leaving our vehicle at the hostel because we could park for free and they’d keep an eye on our stuff. By the time we factored the cost of parking in Carate and risking the river crossings, it seemed like the reasonable option. We’d discuss it with Nito in the morning.
Thanks for reading about my travels. To read more of my adventures, click here to visit my travel page.